The Slay Fund for Social Justice

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Michele Norris

The SJMC partnered with the Slay Fund and the Des Moines Public Library's Wonder of Words Festival to bring NPR journalist Michele Norris and her Race Card Project to campus in 2013: There was a packed house in Sheslow Auditorium of members of the Drake and Des Moines communities in Sheslow Auditorium. Michele also had breakfast with the Crew Scholars and talked with an SJMC class. Many members of the university participated in a “race card” exercise in which they wrote their feelings about race on postcards that were displayed in an installation set up in Olmsted Center. 
Some of the feedback from the students who attended Michele Norris’ talk, who participated in the Race Card Project exercise and discussed it in small groups:
“After discussing our race cards, I actually feel more hopeful. We all want to break stereotypes and the barriers set by these stereotypes, we just don’t know how. To know that my group and I are on the same page makes me extremely happy, proud and hopeful.”
“This conversation was really eye-opening and though it was uncomfortable at first, talking through our race issues really helped break the ice. We found that we had similar experiences, but dealt with them differently. I liked how I got to talk with people who I am not friends with, so I got to learn about other people and get some real insight.”
“Uncomfortable at first, but then opened up and it opened my eyes to other perspectives and experiences. VERY interesting.”
“This exercise was a nice experience, simply because I have not once talked about it with others. The topic is always something you keep to yourself. You cannot fix the problem if you don’t understand it. To hear others’ views about race and their experiences and positions was very eye-opening.”
“I think it is an interesting and insightful way to bring up the topic of race. It opens up new perspectives.”
“My classmates listened to my perspective being a foreign student and I felt like the three of us learned about each other.”
“I found the exercise really interesting because our conversation shifted from being just about race to being about cultural standards as well.”
“It was interesting to hear about other people’s perspectives and experiences, and made me think about some situations in a completely different way.”
“It was really eye-opening to have this kind of in-depth discussion.”
“Very interesting conversation. It’s something we all want to talk about, but are not given many opportunities to. Having open discussions like this puts less of a taboo on the issue of race.”
“People are so scared and timid to talk when the issue of race is brought up, but this exercise allowed all of us to talk and listen to each other in a respectful manner. It was a sharing of ideas."
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